Respecting the Plan: Develop Planning Parsimony
The last few day have been a challenge.
I have been traveling to Delhi, India for over 24 hours—from Philadelphia Pennsylvania to New York, to Kiev Ukriane to New Delhi. It has certainly been a journey. I am excited to have arrived in India and have spent my first day in the city of New Delhi from wandering street corners to experiencing my first tuk tuk with someone I only met today.
We walked along the allies of Delhi, navigating a labyrinth of culture and entrepreneur spirit—I have never been asked to buy something so many times.
But that was never the plan.
When I arrived, I had planned to sleep and write a full Forces of Habit blog post on my initial thoughts upon arriving. Yet from the moment I entered the hostel, adventure has grabbed my attention, making my plan to write crumble.
I was upset.
I thought that not writing would be the end of the whole site. No one would read someone who posts infrequently, It was over.
But none of those thoughts where really helpful in making time to write, nor were they useful in driving me to sit down and get started in my exhsued state—so why do they arise anyway?
"if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" -Maslow
I was disrespecting the plan.
Part of intentionally living means understanding that not every mental tool we have at our disposal for thinking about a given problem is always applicable. I really wanted to rely on planning, so much so that my thoughts attached on to my expected outcome—the planned one—as the only one. But leaving space for only one future is ignorant and risky—I set myself up to be upset if I attach to only one possible future.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘alright, no more planning then right?’; not exactly.
Planning is such a valuable tool! We could never just throw the whole idea of forward think out of the window. But as the quote above accurately examines, the tool—the hammer—is not one size fits all. WE mustn’t make planning the only way we engage with life— life isn’t just another box full of nails.
So it isn’t planning per se, it’s our relationships with the ideas we create; that is where we start to disrespect the plan.
"I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."-Dwight Eisenhower
To start respecting the plan we need to stop obsessively applying the tool to every morsel of our days. Plans aren’t meant to always go according to themselves; that’s just not in the design of how a plan is to function. Instead of constantly relying on the plan as a metric for daily achievement, respect the beauty of what the plan has to offer by using it sparingly and simple—practice Planning Parsimony.
Planning Parsimony is our greatest tool for respecting the plan.
Here’s an example. A fellow traveler and I had just arrived to the city and where near obsessed about having access to cellular data to navigate the city of New Delhi—our intentions were deeply rooted in planning.
However, my intentions for data would have been to follow the map eyes glued, leaving no room for error or spontaneity—consider the plan disrespected. I can imagine feeling devastated as the maps didn’t help, feeling helpless because the only thing I knew and would accept was a future that matched my plan.
My friend however saw the device as comfort for the uncertainty that may arise as she and I attempted to wander New Delhi with little to no directions. In those moments she helped create this idea of planning parsimoniously, only for the sake of some general guideline that may help excite adventure.